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Julian Hill MPFederal Member for Bruce

Australia’s Global Performance: Falling Behind report

Australia is now less productive, more unequal, more corrupt, less happy, more indebted, less affluent, and less trusting of public institutions than when the Liberal government was elected in 2013.

Download the Australia is Falling Behind report

Falling behind under the Liberals

Federation Chamber- 15 March, 2021

This motion makes clear that Australia is falling behind the rest of the world and going backwards under the Liberals. I am old-fashioned, compared to the Deputy Prime Minister at least. I believe facts still matter and that the evidence is clear.

In the eighth year of this tired, pointless government over there, we have got enough data in now to assess their actual record. How is Australia actually faring comparing to other countries? How are Australians actually doing in the eighth year of this government?

The conclusions are stark. From independent, reputable data from the OECD and other international sources, we have global rankings—like the Olympics of developed nations—to see how we're measuring up. Are we progressing or are we falling behind?

The conclusion—it is fair to say—is that Australia is less productive, more unequal, more corrupt, less happy, more indebted, less affluent and less trusting of public institutions than we were when this Liberal government was elected in 2013. Let's look at the economy. The government—the Liberals—love to claim they are great economic managers. 'We're leading the world,' we're told all the time. 'We're going great; it is tickety-boo.' It is simply not true when you look at the facts and scratch behind the marketing spin that the Prime Minister gives us. Have a look at wages. From when the government was elected in 2013 to six years later, 2019, real wages had fallen in Australia. In 2019, Australia sat—this is before COVID; they can't hide behind COVID—third-last place in the OECD out of 35 countries for wage growth. The government's only answer is new laws to allow bosses to cut wages further and to get rid of penalty rates. Look at housing affordability: while wages have been going backwards, we are now the third most unaffordable housing market in the OECD because prices have been rising much faster than wages.

This is a disaster for society. We've seen house prices in Melbourne and Sydney go up by two per cent month on month. It is terrible. The only housing affordability policy this government has had was Malcolm Turnbull saying 'You should get rich parents to give you a deposit.' They've had no minister for years and, now that they have got one, it was probably better when they didn't have one. They have come up with their bathroom renovation scheme, which is their only answer.

A bunch of nutty backbenchers are telling us that people should be able to withdraw their superannuation to buy a house. That's like pouring petrol on a fire. All that will see is house prices rise further. It's like getting a vacuum cleaner into your superannuation account and sucking the cash straight into the pockets of the guy selling the house. That's all they've got. Third worst in the world.

Productivity: it's the special source of the economy and it's how much value we squeeze out of every hour and every bit of resourcing we put in. In 2013, when Labor left office, Australia's productivity was growing at 1.7 per cent a year. We were the 10th highest in the world out of the 34 OECD nations. Six years on under this mob before COVID—they can't hide behind COVID—Australian productivity growth was negative. It was the fifth last in the OECD. That's shocking.

Household debt was 119.4 per cent of GDP—that is, the second highest out of 43 countries. Business investment went down 26 per cent under the Liberals, and 85 per cent of that decline was before the pandemic. You could use GDP per capita. Whichever measure you look at, it belies their claim, their propaganda and their myth that Liberals are great economic managers. It's not true.

They say, 'We might be mean, nasty and fight each other, but we're good economic managers.' Well, it's not true. The government will hate this motion. It's full of inconvenient facts, and they don't like to deal in facts. They're desperate not to talk about their actual record of failure in their eighth year.

The problem for the government is that no amount of spin or marketing will help. There's the $1 billion of taxpayer funded advertising that they've blown since they were elected. Not even any amount of idiotic photos of the Prime Minister playing dress-ups and building things—remember the chook shed? You could fit the whole WA Liberal Party into the chook shed now—with the daggy dad persona and the personal photographer will cover up their actual record of failure.

As the motion shows, when you look at education, our kids are going backwards compared to the rest of the world in science and maths. Tuition fees are up by 36 per cent in four years for university courses. We're eight out of 11 high-income countries going backwards.

Australia ranks 61st globally for broadband speeds. They stuffed the NBN and told blatant lies about its cost.

On the proportion of women in parliament, only 23 per cent of the Australian party room are women. First Nations Australians have the lowest life expectancy.

On every measure, when you look at the facts, not the spin and marketing, Australia has gone backwards under the Liberals.

I move that this House:
(1) recognises that after over 7 years of this Government, Australia is falling behind the rest of the world on numerous key measures of economic and social success;
(2) notes that, in relation to:
(a) the economy, even before the COVID-19 pandemic the Government had badly mismanaged the economy with reputable data and global rankings showing that:
(i) real wages in Australia were 0.7 per cent lower in 2019 compared to 2013, with Australia ranked third last out of 35 OECD countries to wage growth;
(ii) over 8 years of the current Government, Australia's productivity rate has been steadily declining, from 2013 when Australia ranked tenth among 34 OECD nations, to 2018 when Australia ranked fifth last;
(iii) Australian household debt as a share of GDP sits at 119.4 per cent of GDP, the second highest rate out of 41 countries assessed;
(iv) Australia is now the third most unaffordable housing market within the OECD; and
(v) Australia is lagging behind in the jobs recovery from this recession;
(b) education outcomes:
(i) Australian children's educational outcomes have slipped in both national and international terms, with Australia slipping in science and mathematics outcomes; and
(ii) OECD data confirms Australia has high tertiary tuition costs by global standards with the average annual borrowing by Australian students in tertiary programs rising by 36.7 per cent in just four years;
(c) environmental outcomes:
(i) Australia's rate of greenhouse gas emissions per capita has been the highest in the world;
(ii) Australia ranks second worst globally for government climate policy;
(iii) by 2018 Australia ranked 18 out of 25 of the world's top energy-consuming countries with sharp declines from 2014 and 2016; and
(iv) Australia has the second highest level of biodiversity deterioration in the world; and
(d) numerous other measures, Australia is falling behind and ranks poorly, for instance:
(i) First Nations Australians have the lowest life expectancy amongst First Nations people globally;
(ii) Australia now ranks only 8 out of 11 high-income countries for healthcare affordability;
(iii) Australia now ranks sixth worst in the OECD for obesity rates;
(iv) Australia's global ranking for the proportion of women in the lower house of the national parliament fell from a high of thirty-second place in 2010 to forty-eighth place in 2019, noting that only 23 per cent of the entire coalition Government party room are women;
(v) Australia is ranked sixty-first globally for fixed broadband speeds;
(vi) investment in research and development in Australia has fallen significantly as a percentage of GDP under the current Government; and
(vii) Australia has become more corrupt under this Prime Minister, slipping to eleventh place on the Corruption Perception Index;
(3) acknowledges that with a possible federal election this year, Australians have a right to question:
(a) how well they are doing under this visionless Government; and
(b) whose side the Government is on; and
(4) condemns the Government for spending $1 billion of taxpayer funds on government advertising, racking up over one trillion dollars' worth of debt with nothing to show for it and wasting the economic recovery.